Disclaimer: Ponyo on the Cliff by the Sea (Gake no Ue no Ponyo) is an animated film by Studio Ghibli, written and directed by Hayao Miyazaki. Therefore, I own nothing and bow down to genius.
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Ponyo on the Cliff by the Sea
July 12, 2009
As she dipped her feet into the water, she wondered what had gone wrong.
Water was the only thing that could soothe her when her emotions felt like a raging storm. The tranquility of the ocean reminded her of the home that she had given up, the magic she had forfeited; nonetheless, she was soothed. It was times like this that she was unsure of the path that she had chosen in her lifetime.
Could a girl, even at fifteen, have a life crisis?
She had been happy, but she wasn't someone who thought things through. Especially at the age of five, who would allow her to make such a decision that would alter her existence so drastically? Her parents should've gotten awards at how smart they were to allow that to happen. Regardless, Ponyo knew that she would've been heartbroken and distraught if she had been forced back to her home under the sea... oh, why did everything have to be so hard to think through?
She and Sōsuke had been so close for so long, going through so many of life's trials together, side by side. She knew that she had his love and support, but now... she wasn't entirely too sure. Sure, they had been arguing a bit more lately, and sure they didn't always get along, but she didn't understand why he had to blow up at her so magnificently when all she asked was a simple question.
She didn't know that it had to do with manliness, nor that it was a certain line that she had crossed. Ponyo was innocent by nature, and anything to do with the subject nearly blew his mind if brought up. As time progressed, Sōsuke began keeping more and more from her, wouldn't share a bed with her anymore, and most certainly wouldn't bathe with her any more. She wanted to know why.
Ponyo didn't understand that when a boy and a girl got older, those little tugs at her heart that she usually felt turned into an entirely different form of adoration and love. Bodies reacted, eyes wandered...
It was a sensitive subject for Sōsuke, especially with the unexpected death of his father when he was ten. Love and the future were always small blips on his emotional radar; however, when asked, he went deeper into his shell than he had been before, refusing to open up to her. Eventually, all that she could manage was sitting by him while he sobbed, an arm around his shoulders. She didn't mind being the rock he steadied himself on. She felt pride in that.
As his wounds began to heal, even though they caused pain, Ponyo didn't realize that he had started looking at her in a different light. When he thought about the love that his father must've had for his mother, he knew that the love he had for Ponyo was the same... he would have dreams about her, confusing ones, and dreams where he would kiss her and she would accept him, flaws and all.
When Sōsuke yelled that they were no longer friends, solely by her asking that question, she began to cry (or, at least, attempted to hold back the tears that threatened to fall) and ran off. What she didn't see was that look on Sōsuke's face when he saw the tears. The one thing that he was completely weak to was her tears, and the second he saw those, he knew that he had made a huge mistake. He had no clue why he even threatened their friendship, but...
It had taken nearly two hours to locate her, sitting on the edge of the beach, with her feet in the water. Her posture was slumped, and just by watching her he felt the guilt seep even deeper into him.
Not knowing how to approach her without starting, or even continuing, a fight, he edged closer, slipping off his sandals as he reached the sand.
Time to bite the bullet. "... P-Ponyo?" he asked tentatively, worried that she would force him away.
She didn't turn, but tensed. He knew that she had heard him.
Taking a deep breath, he began. "I'm... I just wanted to say that I'm sorry. I didn't mean any of that. I just... I just–"
Ponyo interrupted, "If you didn't mean it, then why did you say it? Why do you have to take your anger out on me? I'm the frontrunner of people on your side, you know." She still didn't turn to look at him, her eyes fixed on the waves ahead.
He needed to get his words together. He had already tried to piece together what he was going to say to her, but that just flew out the window. "I've... heard that you hurt the people you love the most. I wish it wasn't true, but... you're really my best friend, Ponyo. I don't regret this for a second, but... it's hard."
Now she was getting impatient. "What is?"
"Not fully understanding what I feel when I look at you." There. He said it. Was that so hard?
"What? How in the world...?"
"I mean that I love you, Ponyo." Okay, that was a bit harder.
"I know, and I love you, too. I don't unders–"
To clarify, he added: "Not brotherly-sisterly love."
She nodded. "Oh."
"That's all?" he asked, now feeling a bit stupid for laying everything down on the line for such a apathetic response.
"What am I supposed to say to that?" she asked, now feeling a bit shy even though she knew that she would already end up, in the long run, with him. Did she expect this to happen so soon, though? Maybe. They were around that age where the possibilities blossomed. She was a woman in her own right, anyway.
"Oh, I don't know... something that doesn't end in rejection?"
"Rejection?" She was confused. "If you have to ask, then I don't have to answer." After he still didn't respond, she sighed, "Sōsuke, you're dumb."
"Me? Dumb? Why?"
"I'm here for one reason. Do you remember what reason that is?"
He exhaled. "... yes."
The hands on the hem of her skirt began to fiddle with the fabric. She figured that the pink of her skirt matched the pink on her cheeks, but she wasn't going to focus on that. "Then why are you questioning my love for you? You should know that it's endless, no matter the type... familial, platonic, or romantic. As long as you're here with me, I have no reason to complain."
He chose to sit next to her, then. He didn't know if it was solely for the comfort of having her close, or if he wanted his next question to come true. "So like... kissy stuff... is fine?" He had seen his parents do it, and knew that kissing was one of the utmost declarations of love. He wanted to show her that.
Her hands stopped moving, her skirt free from their grasp. "You want to kiss me?" She almost looked at him then, but didn't want to unnerve him even more.
He tried to still his shaking hands. "I-I didn't say that, but you would... wouldn't mind?" He needed to learn how to speak without stuttering around her. It was very unbecoming. Maybe she would understand?
"Of course not, why would I?" she answered without pausing. She would adore being closer to him, just like how they used to be. Sleeping in the same bed, maybe even taking baths together again? She'd love that.
"I... why are you asking me all of the hard questions?" he asked, frowning. His hands were no longer shaking as he watched her out of the corner of his eye.
"Why are you so flustered about them, Sōsuke?"
"Stop asking me questions!"
"Do you want to kiss me?"
"What did I just say?"
She paused a moment to jump back in their conversation. "You said to stop asking you questions, right?"
He nodded firmly. "Right! You're still doing it!"
She giggled, knowing that she was thoroughly messing with him for her own amusement. Ponyo turned to him for the first time during their conversation, finding herself extremely attracted to the blush covering his cheeks. It was lovely, and she knew exactly what she intended to do next.
Taking a fistful of his shirt, she tugged him roughly in her direction, and when his lips were close enough for the taking, that's exactly what she did.
Her eyes were closed tightly, her concentration fierce and without interruption; he was too shocked by the sudden kiss to do anything besides blink a few times before kissing her back. All that he could focus on was the feeling of her lips against his, something he hadn't felt for a long time. They were soft and very warm; he wanted nothing more than to stay there, his lips on hers. Who cared about breathing? The kiss wasn't too romantic, nor was it even a good first kiss, but it was theirs, and... if they fought, they could always make up this way from now on. He wouldn't mind, and neither would she.